Dr. Lauri Grossman (DC CCH RSHom (NA) is a licensed chiropractor and homeopath. Today she shares important lessons in dealing with the allopathic establishment, the media and offering help in foreign lands. Lauri has taught at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the Hospital for Special Surgery, Lenox Hill Hospital, and Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. She developed the curriculum in Homeopathy for the graduate nursing programs at New York University and the College of New Rochelle. She has traveled to countries affected by natural disasters, trained scores of physicians and nurses and organized help with homeopathy. She was recently elected to the board of National Center for Homeopathy. www.drlaurigrossman.com
- QUESTION: You’ve traveled to countries affected by natural disasters and used your homeopathic and management skills to help many people. You also trained physicians and nurses in those countries. Could you talk about how you approached those situations and how receptive (or not) the local people, doctors and governments were?
LG: Ninety percent of emergency work takes place before one ever enters a disaster area. Before we pack our bags to offer aid, we must understand the people we will meet. Long before we hop on a plane, we must create allies in the region. Otherwise, it’s difficult to find a place to set up, it’s impossible to get support services to make things happen, and we waste our time trying to convince others as to why they should be grateful for our presence and why they should include homeopathy in the overall relief plan. In other words, I’ve learned that without proper planning, homeopathy remains on the fringe.
The greatest desire to help others falls flat when people who mean well simply appear, with no understanding of how they will carry out their mission. Nothing gets done when there is no one on the ground who understands homeopathy or where it will fall into the emergency program. Just after an earthquake is not the time to teach local doctors, nurses, governmental officials and other NGO leaders the benefits of Aconite for panic attack or the effectiveness of Stramonium for night terrors. Sure, you can wander the streets and offer pellets here and there, but that gets people suspicious and inevitably it winds up in a Facebook post with some weird comment about homeopaths curing broken legs with voodoo.
When efforts have been made to educate healthcare workers ahead of time and when physicians and government officials understand the value of what homeopathy can offer their people, then our presence is welcomed. When you know who in the area can be relied upon to bolster the team’s efforts, supportive officials and community members will work tirelessly to make things happen. They introduce you to people in the government who know how to bring about change. They set up meetings with doctors who are looked upon for their creative vision and leadership skills. The most effective NGO’s have offices around the world that work to build alliances before they ever begin to offer services and this is the way that homeopathic organizations must function if they ever want to play a significant role in global disaster efforts.
AS: What kind of reception did you get in Trinidad and Haiti?
LG: When I went to Trinidad the first time I traveled with Homeopaths Without Borders. The trip had been arranged by Sushilah Lalsingh, a homeopath from Canada who grew up in the region. She knew doctors and nurses in the island country. At the time, there was rising concern about the rapid spread of Avian flu. Lalsingh’s connections with the locals and her careful preparations to address their concerns resulted in our receiving a grand reception. Each day more people came to our training sessions. Eventually every seat was taken and the aisles of our classroom overflowed with doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers of all kinds. The feedback we received was tremendous and soon administrators from the Medical College at the University of the West Indies called us to discuss the development of a sustainable program. Years later, attendees continue to write to me with questions about case management and inquiries about new medicines. Needless to say, they are still practicing and homeopathic care continues to grow in Trinidad.
In Haiti again, it was a colleague of Lalsingh’s who had connections with a hospital in Port au Prince. He was the one who introduced us to the nurses and doctors on staff. He also provided us with the supplies to set up a makeshift clinic and a cool storeroom to keep our pharmacy. Before we offered a single remedy, we spoke with the healthcare workers on staff to learn just where our help was needed and how we could best serve the people of the region. We worked in that one location for some time and expanded from there, as our contacts improved.
Today, some of Homeopaths Without Borders’ best work is being carried out by Holly Manoogian who has returned to the country so many times that she has an extraordinary network of physicians, nurses, and support crew who bolster her efforts and help to make HWB’s training sessions and clinic work a success, time and time again.
Similar events happened in Afghanistan. Cynthia Artin, a friend of mine, wanted to include me in a program the American government was developing for women in Kabul. She spoke with a young medical doctor, Abdul Nasir, about homeopathy and how it might help to improve women’s health in the region. Dr. Nasir was interested, so Ms. Artin introduced us and we corresponded via email for years. For safety reasons, I was hesitant to travel to Afghanistan so we met in Dubai. Together we worked on documents to propose to the Ministry of Health that we would establish homeopathy as a recognized aspect of the healthcare system. Over the years, Dr Nasir was successful in getting governmental support and in attracting interested physicians to learn more.
When an earthquake severely damaged several rural provinces in Oct 2015, he contacted me by email. He had teams of doctors eager to treat the emotional issues of the people in greatest need. He had physicians ready to study the homeopathic medicines that could address the rising acute concerns. I provided a manual and sent regular updates. We met via Skype. I called Hahnemann Labs (who, like Washington Homeopathics, Hylands, and Boiron has always been ready to provide relief in times of disaster) and they sent medicines that arrived in time to meet the sudden need. Within days, people received quality emergency care and through the following months, doctors prescribed homeopathic medicines that bolstered families through the difficult wintertime.
Since my first trip to Trinidad, I have continued to reach out to physicians, nurses, and government representatives of distant lands so that we have a connection before any disaster hits. I have attended sessions at the United Nations where NGO’s meet and collaborate. The Internet provides invaluable contact to help build upon initial introductions. Relationships grow in an organic fashion and an appreciation for what homeopathy can offer builds over time. Then, when there is an emergency, there is already a foundation of trust- the homeopathic team is welcomed, the work begun swiftly and the people treated effectively and efficiently as they so deserve.
AS: That was a wonderful inside look at the complex process of offering help. Among your other accomplishments, you developed courses in homeopathy for medical schools and teaching hospitals (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, New York University). How did you get past the wall of prejudice and gain cooperation in an allopathic bureaucracy?
LG: Patience was the key to my receiving meaningful invitations from medical institutions. No matter how eager I was to be a guest lecturer or how urgently I wanted to become a faculty member, I waited until someone in the institution was familiar with me, my work and the effectiveness of homeopathic medicine. I waited till they wanted me just as much as I wanted them. I waited till they made the first move.
I received my first invitation to teach at Columbia after I had treated one of their senior pediatricians for a digestive disorder. She improved significantly and then referred others to me. After witnessing the effectiveness of homeopathy, she began to ask questions. I spent as much time with her as she wanted. I began to look forward to our conversations and she picked up on my enthusiasm, eventually wanting to know if I was willing to share my knowledge with other docs at the hospital. And the same thing happened in other medical institutions. I led a workshop for the neurology department at Lenox Hill only after an audiologist affiliated with the hospital responded to Sepia for her hot flashes and her daughter responded to Lycopodium for issues related to her low self esteem.
Teaching is a passion of mine. It excites me to arouse someone’s curiosity. I feel joyful when I inspire someone to learn. I love to educate my patients and at each visit I share a bit of homeopathic history or philosophy. I might tell personal stories or I may share research findings. Basically, I offer information that will connect with an individual’s interests and capture their enthusiasm to learn more. This allows patients to appreciate homeopathy on an intellectual or professional level as well as on a personal/sensate level. And this is what gets normally conservative in-the-box thinkers to say, “Hey this makes sense to me. Want to take a shot at explaining it to my colleagues?”
Then they are the ones who wrestle with the bureaucracy. If they succeed and I get a warm invitation, I’m all for it. If the administration balks at the proposal and gives my contact a hard time, I let it go. Surely, I am disappointed. But it’s no fun to teach anywhere where you have to clobber someone over the head to pay attention or to be a gracious host. I wait patiently till they come with the right offer. Then I give it all I’ve got and share my heart and soul. When you work this way, word gets around. It’s only a matter of time before A tells B and B tells C. It’s the old game of following your passion and being ready when the right moment arrives.
AS: Homeopaths have come to expect ridicule at best from the media but your experience has been quite different. You were featured in The NY Times, Wall Street Journal and U.S. News and World Report. You even appeared on the TV shows Good Morning America and Fox and Friends. How did you accomplish that?
LG: Once again it comes down to supportive allies. It’s critical to develop trusted contacts in the media if you want to talk about homeopathy. Otherwise, TV hosts can make fun of your ideas and writers can turn your greatest efforts into mincemeat. Every homeopath knows someone who is real smart, well-trained, and highly respected in the field who has come out of an interview with his tail between his legs. You can’t jump at the chance to talk to the media unless you can be sure of the intentions of the host.
I serve on the board of several not for profits and work alongside colleagues who dedicate countless hours to serving the public good and to helping people from communities in need. This environment has served as an exemplary setting for me to meet men and women who will go out of their way to bolster meaningful projects. I was invited to speak about my work in Haiti with Homeopaths Without Borders by Rosanna Scotto. Like me, she was connected to Birds Nest Productions. She knew me a long time before we ever started talking about homeopathy. She was familiar with my educational background, work experience and successes in the field. So the show was a great experience for me, not only for the way in which I was able to educate the public, but also for the way in which it drew donations for our efforts in Haiti.
AS: In 2015, Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) reviewed studies of homeopathy and declared that homeopathy was ineffective. The study was totally contrived, but because the NHMRC is a high status organization, the study is being used around the world to close hospitals, defund clinics, sue homeopathic pharmacies and persecute individual homeopaths. How do we defend against such organized attacks by well funded entities, usually surrogates of Pharma.
LG: The entire homeopathic community must come together to make a better case for our work. For years we thought ourselves secure in the presentation of successful cases, but this is not what drives clinical practice any more. We are living in a world that relies on research for validation and we homeopaths have few well designed studies to back up our claims. By the end of 2014, 189 randomised controlled trials of homeopathy on 100 different medical conditions had been published in peer-reviewed journals. That’s a good start, but we desperately need more. Homeopathic colleges must include research tracks in their programming and we must encourage our students to place a high priority on these classes. Practitioners must be encouraged to learn more about the Homeopathic Research Institute, an international charity created to address the need for high quality scientific research in homeopathy. Practitioners must be encouraged to attend its conferences in order to learn from its cutting edge work and to make donations to ensure the success of its mission. When homeopaths are able to contribute numbers of well designed studies to peer reviewed journals, we will be better armed to make our case. Then it won’t matter who is representing Big Pharma. The evidence will be in the form that transforms thinking and creates change.
AS: Thank you for sharing some of your hard won lessons. No one who reads this will rush off to help in distant countries without serious preparation. Nor will they walk into a stacked deck with hostile media. They’ll also have an idea how to cultivate contacts and spread the word effectively.